The Crowds Want In

May 11, 2005 by

There is certainly no shortage of conversations on the topic of community, particularly how it relates to the health and vitality of a church. Without a doubt, this concept of connectedness, of sharing, participation and fellowship, is a key ingredient to the Christian life. It is no wonder why so many churches have the word “community” in their very name.

However, this element of community that we are so quick to use in our promotion and commotion, leaves me wondering if we’re really getting it.

Sometimes I think the people promoting the church (pastor, associate pastor, administrator, designer, etc.) are living too close to what they think or hope their church is like, that they forget they are several layers removed from the first time visitor, casual attender, and often the regular member. In our effort to tell our communities who we are, we’re forgetting about who we are not.

To think that the core people of a church actually reflect the entire church is like saying Star Wars fans are an accurate picture of all movie goers. Yeah right.

The reality is that the core of a church usually does represent good community. But remember that the core is not the crowd. The crowds want in.

Perhaps our problem with community (especially the lack of deep relationships) has something to do with our individualistic Western mindset. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a mini-study on the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and the precedent it sets for how we are to live in relationship with each other and with God. Referring to the lack of deep relationships in the church as a result of our individualistic approach to God (individual prayer, solitude, etc.), Klaus Issler, in his book Wasting Time With God, says that “these spiritual disciplines do not enrich the relational competencies we need to deepen our relationship with a God who experiences a deep fellowship within the Trinity.” We must get community right.

As typically happens in many of these Church Marketing Sucks entries, we have to stop at some point before pursuing conversation that belongs elsewhere in a better context. So I close with three admittedly trite thoughts:

  • I believe community is a must and that we all need it.
  • Let’s figure out how to do it right.
  • When promoting community, make sure you have community.
Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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4 Responses to “The Crowds Want In”

  • Anne Jackson
    May 11, 2005

    Every couple of weeks or so, I visit a new church in our area. Just to relive what it feels like to know not a soul in the church. To not know where to park. Where to go in. Where to sit. I soak in what all of their messages are telling me through their print, their words from the stage, and I let it resonate within me. Sometimes, it makes sense. Often, it doesn’t. And it refreshes my view on the church where I work and inspires me to ask myself if we are truly being authentic.

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  • Tony Morgan
    May 12, 2005

    A related book on the topic of “community” is The Search to Belong by Joseph Myers. Myers talks about the ministry of the church, particularly small groups, as it relates to the four different “spaces” of belonging–public, social, personal, and intimate–that people desire (and God designed) for their lives. The book will challenge your thinking regarding the steps we ask people to take from the crowd into the core. People may be looking for community when they attend your weekend services. It just may not be the same type of community that you have in mind.

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  • Ryan Dickinson
    May 12, 2005

    At The Rock at Church Ranch, we have intentionally developed the visual brand identity, along with the name, in an effort to integrate the church within the Church Ranch community.

    While the concept of community is easily fathomed, the reality of community is far more difficult to achieve. We, as churches, must be careful that our drive to build community does not cross over into the “dark side” (continuing the Star Wars theme) of exclusivity.

    It is a balance to be a tight community and at the same time a welcoming, investing, living body that can easily be added to.

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  • Mike Schorah
    May 17, 2005

    A few months back I saw someone post a message on the Guestbook forum at It was 02:00 in the morning and she said she wasn’t a Christian, scared of going to church, but could she just call for help as she was lonely… Through its website the church members were able to reach out to someone who wouldn’t come to the building…
    And through its website, the same church handles debate that doesn’t get an airing on a Sunday, or requests from a single mom who needs transport from A to B…
    In this connected world, a good website can let people build and live community, connecting people face to face who have met online…

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